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Snake Oil and Harmony Tour 2016 – Live Rooms Chester 20/5/2016

Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn

Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn are both pretty much household names in the rock community and had been ships passing in the night in performance terms until a couple of years ago. They knew of each other, they had met, but they weren’t friends and they hadn’t played together. This all changed backstage at Download a couple of years ago when the two D’s got chatting, and then jamming. An instant connection was formed and after keeping in touch they got together in 2015 to do a low-key acoustic tour to basically play each others’ music and bounce ideas off each other. That was the first Snake Oil and Harmony Tour and it went down so well that this year despite several ongoing personal projects they are back to do it again.

The night was opened by support act Craig McDonald, whose work can be found on the internet under “Who Is This Craig?” Hailing from Gibraltar, this Craig is actually a mellow singer-songwriter with a good voice and a fine guitar technique. He has worked with Danny Vaughn in the past, and apparently this includes a kazoo battle and is captured on a video/dvd! I think he said it was called “Live At Marsh Castle” but so far Google has not produced results!  If you want to check him out there’s a facebook page here.  My personal favourite was a track which I believe is called “The Fuckit Song” – very catchy and hummable and also good fun!

On to the main event, and the first observation made by Dan Reed was that the venue had almost 3 times the number of people in than they had played to the year previously – word had obviously got around about how well these guys play together.  They started with Dan Reed taking the lead and playing “The Cross” in tribute to Prince, who died very recently. Despite being acoustic the performance was loud, fierce and powerful. The format is that Dan and Danny take the lead in alternate songs so then it was over to Danny Vaughn to play his song “Is That All There Is”. This was more upbeat and fun – Dan and Danny describe themselves as Yin and Yang and I could see the relevance.

A song from Dan Reed’s most recent album “Drive” followed, again with a more serious message despite the funny banter between tracks. Tyketto’s “Monday” was next, a song that Danny Vaughn described as a pop song. Something I noticed at this point was that although Dan and Danny were not always both performing at the same time, they each seemed to enjoy the others’ music very much and the chemistry between them was palpable.

Dan

Not sure of the title of Dan’s next track as I was not familiar with it, might have been “On Your Side”? Anyhow Danny was providing some superb harmony vocals, so much so that Dan stopped playing just to applaud him and confess that at that moment he had a huge man-crush much to the audience’s delight. This left Danny corpsing with laughter although eventually they got back to it and finished the song!

The Yin and Yang kicked in again here, with Danny explaining that Dan’s last song had been written in a Himalayan retreat whereas his next one had been written in a strip club! The song was of course Tyketto’s “Stand Up” and although keeping his tshirt on Dan obligingly did a bit of a strip by loosening and removing his guitar strap……..

Dan then went into another song I didn’t know which was kind of a rap, in fact I would describe it as being street poetry.  It was a stream-of-conciousness thing that sounded great. Unfortunately he was suffering from what Danny described as “songus interruptus” and briefly turned into Woody Woodpecker mid-song. I will leave that to your imagination to picture but let me just add that Danny is very skilled at cartoon voices!

As this year is the 25th anniversary of the release of Tyketto’s “Don’t Come Easy” album we were treated to “Burning Down Inside”, a song dedicated by Danny to everybody who, like him, has battled with the demon of depression over the years. Dan’s “Rainbow Child” followed, a singalong romp that was hugely popular with the crowd, then from Danny “Restless Blood”, a typical 80s song with many whoa-whoas that was apparently written during his Bon Jovi period.

They were then joined on stage by Craig to perform a 3-way tribute to the late David Bowie in the form of a stonking cover of “Space Oddity”. The vocal harmonies on this were, somewhat appropriately, out of this world, and I don’t think I was the only person with goosebumps as it progressed.

Dan then wrestled with his fear of tambourines (you couldn’t make it up) to perform on a song that I have described in my notes as “a real country and western danceable romp” but I have totally failed to note anything else about it, like a title. Sigh.

Danny’s faithful old 12-string came out to lead the way through a beautiful rendition of “Standing Alone” which sent shivers down my spine. The 3 voices in harmony on this song worked perfectly and I was wondering how on earth they could follow it. Turned out that Craig then left again and they did Dan’s tribute to the late great Robin Williams, a song called “Dreams May Come” that actually made me a little teary, and Danny’s “Making Waves” which is apparently about divorce from a woman’s perspective.

Danny

At this point we were reminded that Tyketto have a new album out in October but that Dan Reed Network also have a new album that will be released next week. Rather than play something new Dan led the way on their seminal “Get To You”. I wasn’t sure how this funky dance-rock tune would translate to being played acoustically but actually it sounded pretty good, especially when Dan got up on the boxes at the front of the stage to boogie with the crowd a little! Danny’s next song was from one of his solo albums and was “Gandy Dancers”, all about the songs they used to sing when building the US railroads back in the day.

The whole performance seems a little more rehearsed and polished than last year. This isn’t a bad thing, as the almost awe they had for each other last year seems to have been replaced with comfortable banter and ease this time around. Dan’s next song “Losing My Fear” was introduced with a political message but was actually a rather touching love song about a developing relationship. I couldn’t help thinking it fitted well to the overall theme of the evening and the developing relationship between Dan and Danny. Danny followed with “If Only I Had Wings” which had the whole room clapping and singing along and Danny saying that a great show wasn’t always down to a big crowd and was more about the enthusiasm of the audience.

They encored first with Dan’s “Long Way To Go” – everyone was now on familiar territory and the crowd was right there with them for the whole song. Final song of the evening was of course Danny’s lead on “Forever Young”, a sublime end to what had been an entertaining and enjoyable evening all round.

For more information about Dan and Danny you can find them at:

Dan Reed: danreed.com/

Danny Vaughn: www.dannyvaughn.com

Dan and Danny in perfect Harmony!

 

 

About Jo Crosby

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